Archive by author: Lindsay DeeringReturn

Save these Dates! Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Townhalls

Save these Dates! Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Townhalls


Description automatically generatedThe Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, in partnership with Ohio Department of Health, OhioMHAS, and CAS, are partnering to host a series of virtual town hall events to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine as it relates to special populations in Ohio. Hear from medical experts, community leaders, and public health professionals. More information on how to join the following live steam events will be shared on in the near future .

Feb. 22 | 6:30 p.m. – African American Ohioans

Feb. 23 | 6:30 p.m. – Hispanic/Latino Ohioans

March 1 | 6:30 p.m. – Asian American and Pacific Islander Ohioans

March 2 | 6:30 p.m. – Rural Ohioans

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Crnkovic Appointed Chief Executive Officer at Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare

Crnkovic Appointed Chief Executive Officer at Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare

OhioMHAS is pleased to announce the appointment of Elaine Crnkovic as Chief Executive Officer of Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare (ABH), effective Jan. 4, 2021. Crnkovic will replace Jane Krason, who is retiring after 19 years of service at the Athens hospital. A native of New Mexico, Crnkovic earned a Master’s Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy and an Interdisciplinary Doctorate Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy, Educational Management & Development and Curriculum & Instruction from New Mexico State University. She brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in the private sector mental health arena in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Read the full media announcement.

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Millions in Grant Funding Now Available for Substance Use/Mental Health Court Programs

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today that Ohio is now offering $7.5 million in grant funding to support the expansion of specialized court programs that focus on recovery from substance use or mental health disorders.

Governor DeWine proposed the grants in March as part of his RecoveryOhio initiative.

Specialized court dockets give judges the flexibility to place defendants with mental health or substance use disorders into treatment rather than sentencing them to jail.

“When someone struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder commits a crime, sending them to jail won’t get them the treatment they need,” said Governor DeWine. “This funding will help specialty courts in Ohio direct those arrested for non-violent crimes toward recovery.”

“Judges replace harsh sentences with mandatory treatment to those who are addicted, all the while holding them accountable,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said. “They care about recovery, and their compassion shows. They care about the person who’s struggling, the families affected, and the community.”

The grants will be awarded through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and are funded through Ohio’s 2020-2021 operating budget. Any court that is not currently receiving specialized docket or drug court grant funding can apply.

“We appreciate the partnerships between the courts and our treatment agencies which provide accountability, improve health and safety, and reduce commitments to the state correctional system,” said Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “This funding creates opportunities for new specialized dockets and helps sustain those that are already existing.”

The grant funding can be used for payroll costs, clinical services provided by state-certified addiction and/or mental health providers, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) medications, urinalysis, and recovery supports.

Applications will be accepted in two categories:

  • Specialty courts receiving final certification after July 1, 2019, and not previously certified
  • Specialty courts that received final certification before July 1, 2019, or operational specialized dockets seeking re-certification.

Applications will be accepted until all available funds have been awarded, but questions must be received via email to no later than November 14, 2019.

More information on the grant, including application documents, is available on the OhioMHAS website.

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State agencies encourage older adults, families, to take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services encourage all Ohioans to take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Locations around the state will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accept pills for proper disposal. The service is free and anonymous.

“Keeping medications past their usefulness can be dangerous because time can change how some medications work,” said Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “Medications that you no longer take or that have passed the expiration date on their labels should be disposed of promptly and properly.”

“Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by removing unused medications from your home,” added Ursel J. McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “National Prescription Take-Back Day provides a convenient and safe way to do so.”

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.

Further, methods traditionally used to dispose of drugs, such as flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, can pose potential safety and health hazards.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and is held twice each year. Visit to find a collection site near you. Sites will accept most pills and patches. They cannot accept liquids or needles.

If you are unable to visit a collection site on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the departments recommend these tips for safe disposal:

  • Contact your pharmacy. Tell your pharmacist the name of the medications that you wish to dispose of and ask about the most appropriate means of disposal;
  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the package or Drug Facts labels of non-prescription medications;
  • Do not flush any medications down the sink or toilet or throw them in the trash unless the package or your doctor or pharmacist specifically instructs you to do so;
  • For medications that can be thrown in the trash, mix them with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds, then place the mixture into a sealable bag, bottle or container;
  • Do not crush tablets or capsules that will be thrown in the trash; and
  • For medications that cannot be flushed or thrown in the trash, check with local pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, or trash and recycling providers about medication disposal guidelines and options such as drop boxes in your community.

Visit for additional medication tips and resources for older adults.

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Ohio “Tobacco 21” Law Takes Effect Oct. 17

Ohio’s new “Tobacco 21” law takes effect on Thursday, Oct. 17, raising the age to purchase cigarettes, other tobacco products, and alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and vaping products from 18 to 21. It will also become illegal to give such products to others under age 21. The types of tobacco and alternative nicotine products covered by the new law include cigarettes; electronic smoking devices such as vapes, e-cigarettes, and tanks; cigars; pipe tobacco; chewing tobacco; snuff; snus; dissolvable nicotine products; filters, rolling papers, pipes, blunts, or hemp wraps; liquids used in electronic smoking devices whether or not they contain nicotine; and vapor products – any component, part, or additive that is intended for use in an electronic smoking device, a mechanical heating element, battery, or electronic circuit and is used to deliver the product. Tobacco products and alternative nicotine products do not include products such as nicotine replacement therapy for use when quitting tobacco and other nicotine products.

The law requires retailers to post a sign indicating that it is illegal to sell tobacco and alternative nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21. A clerk who sells tobacco and alternative nicotine products to a person under 21 and the owner of the retail establishment may face criminal penalties that increase after the first violation under Ohio’s Tobacco 21 law. For a first offense, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, a clerk is subject to no more than 30 days in jail and a fine up to $250, and the retail establishment is subject to a fine of $2,000.

For more information about Ohio’s Tobacco 21 law, go to or call the toll-free hotline at 1.855.OHIO.T21 (1.855.644.6821). The Ohio Department of Health’s Ohio Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW offers free resources, including non-judgmental quit coaches for quitting tobacco and vaping products.

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PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: Multi-System Youth Action Plan Committee

Ohio Family and Children First has been tasked by the most recent operating budget to submit a comprehensive multi-system youth action plan to the Ohio General Assembly no later than December 31, 2019 (budget language below for reference). A Multi-System Youth Action Plan Committee has been formed to accomplish this important task. All meetings are open to the public.

Multi-System Youth Action Plan Committee Schedule
Date Time Location
Monday, September 30, 2019 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. Twin Valley Behavioral Health, Northwing Conference Center A - 2200 W Broad St. Columbus, OH 43223
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. Twin Valley Behavioral Health, Northwing Conference Center A - 2200 W Broad St. Columbus, OH 43223
Monday, October 28, 2019 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. Rhodes Office Tower, 29th Floor Room 2925 - 30 E. Broad Street Columbus, OH 43215
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. Twin Valley Behavioral Health, Northwing Conference Center A - 2200 W Broad St. Columbus, OH 43223
Monday, December 9, 2019 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. Twin Valley Behavioral Health, Northwing Conference Center A - 2200 W Broad St. Columbus, OH 43223
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OhioMHAS PASRR Transitions to New Vendor

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) transitioned its Pre-Admission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) Level II - Serious Mental Illness (SMI) assessments to be provided by Ascend, a MAXIMUS Company on Monday, July 1st.

The Ascend team looks forward to building relationships with the state's provider community to ensure individuals receive the services and supports they need. As part of that goal, sharing helpful resources and fostering open lines of communication will always remain a priority. You will find some important updates below on the minor process changes you can expect post-transition, details on next steps, and more about Ascend.

What Changed? Contacts & Assessor Network

Ohio facilities can expect minimal changes from the current referral process. These include:

  • Faxing Referrals
    If you need to submit a referral via fax, the number has changed. Please submit to:
    • Fax: 877-431-9568
  • Support Resources
    If you have inquiries on referrals submitted after 07/01 or general questions about PASRR processes, contact the Ascend Ohio PASRR HelpDesk team:
  • New Assessors
    The other notable change will be the assessors coming to your facility for onsite visits. After July 1st, a network of qualified independently contracted assessors working with the Ascend team will schedule and conduct evaluations, whenever a Level II is deemed the appropriate next step.
What Remains the Same? HENS Process

HENS will accept applications after the July 1 transition date. Providers are encouraged to continue using this established process and submit their applications through the HENS system moving forward.

About Ascend

Ascend, a MAXIMUS Company, formerly Ascend Management Innovations, comes to its new PASRR Level II - SMI assessments role with previous experience as Ohio's first centralized PASRR partner, from 2009-2015. The company has been nationally recognized for its work with states across the country to manage complex programs and ensure that individuals receive the appropriate care and supports necessary to improve their quality of life. Enduring commitment to process innovation and service excellence has led the company to a role as the industry's leading provider of high-quality, conflict free assessment services for persons with intellectual, behavioral health, and developmental disabilities, as well as older adults and individuals with physical disabilities and complex medical conditions.

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Heat-related illness in individuals using psychiatric medication

Some medicines and medical conditions can make the body overheat, especially during hot and humid weather. When the body overheats, heat-related illness can cause death if not treated. Almost all psychotropic medications except benzodiazepines (e.g. anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives) are among medications that decrease the body's response to heat. Alcohol, narcotics and street drugs can also affect heat tolerance. Read this brochure and check with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications to stay safe during hot weather.

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